Service dogs are often thought of as companion animals for the visually-impaired. In reality, these amazing canines can do so much more. Trained service dogs have the power to provide life-saving benefits to people with physical and emotional disabilities, including conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Benefits of Pet Ownership on Human Health
Dogs make wonderful companions for adults and children of nearly all ages. According to the CDC, the bond between humans and their pets can boost fitness, lower stress, and bring joy to pet owners. Having pets have also been found to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and loneliness.
Dogs can even help boost your mood on a chemical level. Playing with your pup can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, according to HelpGuide.org, which can induce a calming effect in humans.
Pets for Vets, Paws for Veterans & Similar Organizations
The ADA defines a service animal is any dog that is professional trained to perform tasks that help people with certain disabilities, including sensory, intellectual, physical, psychiatric, or other mental disabilities. There are many incredible organizations dedicated to helping military veterans suffering from PTSD, such as Pets for Vets, Paws for Veterans, and K9s for Warriors.
According to Pets for Patriots, a non-profit organization that connects veterans with pets through a companion animal adoption program, veterans suffering from severe symptoms of PTSD are often prescribed a psychiatric service animal. Many veterans do not need to qualify for a service animal to reap the benefits of a companion pet.
Finding the Right Pet for You
In a recent survey published by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, approximately 74 percent of pet owners said that having a pet improved their mental state. However, choosing the right pet for you isn’t always easy. Good service dogs have been well-trained, socialized, and have undergone extensive medical testing to ensure that they’re up for the job.
You’ll also want to consider the traits necessary to be a successful service dog, such as a calm demeanor, friendly and focused, and the ability to perform the same tasks day in and day out without getting bored.
Service Animals and How to Get One
According to Mental Health America, to qualify for a service animal you will need written documentation from your healthcare provider that you are being treated for a psychiatric or emotional disorder or disability and require the support of an animal. Service dogs are trained to meet a person’s particular needs before being placed in their home. Know that most dogs that have already served as pets cannot be later trained as service dogs.
People who have non-debilitating anxiety may not require a service dog but could benefit from an emotional support animal. Not just limited to dogs, emotional support animals can include cats and other domestic pets intended to provide comfort and companionship.
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Please reach out to us if you have questions about adopting a dog in Northern California. Submit our website contact form below or call our Santa Rosa location at 707-595-3834 or our Rohnert Park location at 707-206-9000.